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Football

Harambee Starlets thrash hapless South Sudan at Nyayo

Harambee Starlets players celebrate their goal against South Sudan

Kenya’s journey towards next year’s Women’s Africa Cup of Nations (WAFCON) began on a positive note with an 8-0 thumping of South Sudan at the Nyayo National Stadium on Wednesday.

Neddy Atieno, making her way back to the team after a three-year absence announced her return emphatically, scoring five goals and laying one assist in the rout with Jentrix Shikangwa hitting a brace and Mwanahalima Adam another.

Head coach Charles Okere was pleased with the performance, but says there is still plenty to improve on.

“It was a good match and we won, that was the most important thing. But there is still so much we need to work on and improve. We couldn’t move the ball faster and we were a bit slow in the build up and that is something we need to work on. Of course we will change the team a bit in the return leg to ensure that everyone gets a chance to play,” Okere said.

Shilene Booysen, the South Sudanese head coach was dejected after the result but kept a positive face.

Harambee Starlets forward Sheryl Angachi in action against South Sudan

“The first four goals were exactly what we planned for, and yet the players did not respond. If you look at our team, the players are still struggling to find their feet. They are still trying to understand each other because they were just brought together like five months ago. It will take a while to get to the point we need to, but be every opportunity to play is an opportunity to grow,” the South African tactician said.

Within the opening three minutes of the game, the hosts were already up and running with Atieno, the Ulinzi Starlets captain grabbing a quick brace.

She gave Kenya the lead just 61 seconds into the game with a simple tap in at the back post off a Shikangwa assist from the right, her cross evading a forest of legs inside the box before Atieno finished.

Two minutes later, she doubled Kenya’s tally in the game with an overhead kick after meeting a Janet Bundi cross, almost from the same position she scored her first.

Neddy Atieno in action against South Sudan

South Sudan had some moment of hope after conceding twice in quick succession when they built up play well and passed the ball around, but the most important end of their play, the final third, was lacking.

Half an hour after scoring the second, Starlets were 3-0 up with Atieno completing her hattrick, rising to head home a cross from Sheryl Angachi on the left.

They would go to the break with a  four goal cushion when Shikangwa added another goal with a simple finish from inside the box after the South Sudanese defenders failed to take care of a feeble cross from the left.

In the second half, South Sudan were set to suffer more pain as Starlets came in with the same heat.

Jentrix Shikangwa in action against South Sudan

Shikangwa and Atieno combined for Kenya’s fifth, the Vihiga Queens star slapping a beautiful pass to her new strike partner who neatly finished past the keeper. She added her fifth goal of the afternoon after 61 minutes.

Midfielder Corazone Aquino dumped an inviting looped ball behind the defense to pick out Atieno’s path, the striker controlling with her first touch and slapping the ball home with her second, Starlets going 6-0 up.

The Kenyan girls kept on the pressure and captain of the day Mwanahalima made it 7-0 with a brilliant individual effort, gliding her way into the box from the left before slamming the ball into the roof of the net.

Shikangwa then drove the final nail into South Sudan’s coffin with the eighth goal and her second of the day finishing off a pass from Atieno.

The Kenyan girls will now play the return leg with the comfort of an eight goal lead and now have one foot into the second round.

Their next opponents will be most likely Uganda’s Crested Cranes, the neighbors having beaten Ethiopia 2-0 in the first leg played in Kampala also on Wednesday.

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